A split-back sofa like this one may be a snap to move, according to experts. (minimax_life)

Moving a sofa into or out of your small NYC apartment takes strength, strategy, and infinite patience. Negotiating narrow hallways and making tight turns at strange angles without scraping the walls (buh-bye security deposit) would make anyone want to call a professional (not a bad idea!). But if you have a friend at your disposal or wish to attempt it yourself, we’ve assembled a handy list of steps for how to move a couch.

How to Pack a Couch for Moving

  • Detach your couch’s legs. If your sofa is from Ikea, for instance, there’s a good chance you can remove them by merely twisting them free. Some couches may require a screwdriver — in that case, make sure you keep the loose hardware in a bag, so you don’t lose anything. If you have a sectional, break it down into as many parts as you can. 
  • Remove the cushions and pillows. Store them in a large garbage bag that can be tied tightly. That way they’ll stay clean and (bonus!) won’t fall on your head while you’re navigating the stairs.
  • Wrap your couch in plastic wrap. When moving your sofa, it will most likely rub against dirty hallway walls. Wrapping it up will protect against dirt and grime. Don’t have plastic wrap? Moving blankets or even old sheets will get the job done.

Pro tip: If you’re shopping around for a statement sofa, Juliette Von Hess, organizational guru and owner of MiniMax, says to look for a split-back couch. Most typically dismantle easily for transport.

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How to Move Your Couch

Before we get into the mechanics of how to move your couch, it’s important to note that heavy lifting can do a number on your body if you’re not careful. Don’t forget to lift with your legs, and not your back. Also, remember to bend your knees when leaning down instead of bending at the waist. Most essential, remember not to push yourself too hard. If you feel yourself straining too much, stop what you are doing, reassess, and, if necessary, ask for help.

  • Measure the dimensions of everything. Start with the couch itself. Then measure the doorways, hallways, staircases, and elevators. Pay special attention to the narrowest parts of your journey. Eyeballing will fail you. You don’t want to schlep your couch halfway down the hall before realizing it won’t fit through the doorway. 
  • Take doors down. It’s a good bet that removing the doors in your apartment will make your job easier. Most aren’t tricky to remove — plenty of NYC apartments have doors that can be easily unscrewed from their hinges. 
  • Determine the best strategy for moving the couch out of your apartment. Decide whether the sofa should be oriented horizontally or vertically, or even diagonally if it calls for it. If there’s enough square footage, you may be able to bring the couch through horizontally. For situations with less space, you’ll need to stand the sofa up on its end, hook the top or bottom through the door first. You may need a friend to follow with the other side.
  • Practice safe movement. Again, don’t push yourself too hard. If you don’t think you can’t do it alone, then don’t do it alone — hire a professional. 

Pro tip: Consider buying lifting straps to make carrying a heavy couch easier. Your back will thank you later!

Consider Professional Couch Movers

If you can’t get the job done alone or with friends — some NYC apartments are just too tight and restrictive — then it’s a good idea to turn to people who do this for a living. For many city dwellers, it’s one of the best ways to ease the stress of moving.

Sal Giangrande, the mastermind behind New York Couch Doctor, runs a team of professionals that can deal with whatever any NYC apartment building throws at them. Much of their expertise comes in the art of disassembly — and reassembly. In some cases, your couch might need to be disassembled more drastically, so working with a professional who can perform the surgery, then return your sofa to its original state post-move, might be your best bet. 

And how much does it cost to move a couch? For a company like Sal’s, pricing varies based on the intricacy of the furniture and the number of stairs. The fixed price for a project starts at $250. 

“If it was an assembled piece of flat-pack furniture, for instance, ” says Sal, “theoretically, we should be able to take it apart easily.”

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